RNLI Vice President recognised for health and safety & international work
A Vice President of the RNLI Council, who has devoted more than thirty years of service, both in fund-raising and advising on the strategic direction of the charity, has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Archie Smith, who first started raising money for the charity in the 1980s, says he is ‘quite bowled over’ after being awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to the charity which saves lives at sea.
RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier said Archie was a tireless governor who had provided invaluable help in developing health and safety at the charity as well as promoting the RNLI’s international work aimed at tackling global drowning, which claims more than 360,000 lives a year.
‘There are few RNLI supporters that I would more strongly recommend for national recognition than this humble man. Cheerful, tireless, highly motivated but genuinely self-effacing, he is endlessly prepared to give his time and his energy to a cause that he believes in. He is an example of the very best in the UK charity sector,’ Mr Boissier explained.
Archie’s first contact with the RNLI was as a boy. His father had grown up on Roa Island, Barrow-in-Furness, and he had seen the lifeboat there. Both his parents were involved in fund-raising and, after the family moved to Rickmansworth from Liverpool, Archie became involved in running the Rickmansworth and Chorleywood Fundraising Branch of the RNLI.
A mariner by profession (he served in the Merchant Navy from 1966 to 1977), he then undertook a degree in Maritime Studies and worked in the oil industry until 1995 before becoming Chief Executive of Oil Spill Response Ltd, an international industry funded cooperative which works to prevent and responds to oil spills anywhere in the world.
It is that great depth of experience which has been so valuable within the RNLI, according to Chief Executive Paul Boissier, who noted that Archie’s participation in the RNLI’s Heath and Safety programme had been invaluable. He also praised him for working with the RNLI’s International team in developing plans to grow the charity’s fledgling international lifesaving programs.
‘We can have such a fantastic impact with a small amount of money, so we should be doing it,’ explained Archie, who went on to explain that his admiration for the RNLI’s volunteer crews at all 238 lifeboat stations has been a major reason for his continued involvement with the charity. 'The commitment of people in the RNLI, the lifeboat men and women, continues to astound me. That philanthropy drives me forward. All I do is raise a bit of money and raise an awkward question at a council meeting now and again!’
Under Archie’s eye his local branch has seen its income more than double to £14,456 in the last four years. He has organised a massive variety of fundraising activities in and around Rickmansworth including an annual fine dining dinner, for which he does all of the cooking, a hog roast and local collections.
‘Consistently giving his time with good will, and good humour he has a genuine desire to help the RNLI save more lives,’ added Paul Boissier.
Archie’s philanthropic activities also include a number of other charitable organisations such as the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, where he is the present Prime Warden, responsible for disbursing charitable funds to a variety of educational and maritime causes.
Note to editors: The RNLI Council is a group of volunteers who advise the charity’s Trustees and Executive Team on the strategic direction, challenges and opportunities for the charity. They meet three times a year to consider the progress of the charity against its strategic goals. Vice Presidents are appointed by the trustee board as a mark of special recognition of service to the RNLI.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.